Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Episode 12: Collusion
By: Carlos Uribe

Revenge is a show about Emily Thorne and her quest of revenge.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The problem with Collusion is two-fold. The first is that this is the last couple of episodes we’re going to get for two weeks and the narrative momentum was non-existent.  It’s hard to be dying to see the next episode when the plot seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. There were some developments this week within the narrative but there was too much filler between them. Collusion is probably the closest I’ve gotten to actually being bored this season. It’s not that the show hasn’t gotten bad but that it has simply changed. This is partially because we used to be able to comprehend the damage done to Emily’s bad guys but also because we actually knew who were the antagonists. The show has simply waited too long to reveal who the Initiative is and what they’re plan is. The good news is we do get a hint that they’re plan involves turning off Manhattan’s electricity but for what purpose? Is it just profit? Or is there something more nefarious going on?  I have no idea. The second is that Collusion focuses too much on trying to raise the stakes in a superficial manner that feels forced. I’m talking about the writers trying to create tension by assigning Aiden the mission to kill Victoria. It was obvious from the beginning her life was never actually in danger so it felt superfluous and unnecessary.

Worse than feeling unnecessary, it actually harmed the narrative. The Initiative is this mysterious organization with vast resources and who can do just about anything they want.   They could easily hire hitmen to take out Victoria. They try to frame this as a loyalty test to Aiden because they want to know if he’ll really is useful to them but it makes little sense. They don’t really have a reason to target Victoria and if they did then they would surely have someone else to finish the job in case Aiden failed.  All this plot did is make the Initiative look incompetent. When you’re trying to set up a villainous organization, incompetency is not one of the traits you want them to have. After all, if they’re incompetent then they’ll be no match for Emily. Heck, Emily shouldn’t need to go after them because the authorities would find out. If they’re incompetent and Emily struggles to take them down then Emily loses her effectiveness that the first season had established. It’s possible if we knew more about the Initiative or at least Helen then maybe we would know more on why they had Aiden try to kill Victoria.  This means that they might not look so incompetent if we actually had an idea of what the Initiative is. At this point, the Initiative is dragging the entire show down because the show is withholding too much information from the viewer. I’m still a fan of the show and I still think the show is pretty good. It’s nice that the show trusts its audience to stick in for the long-haul but I think the show is asking a little bit too much at this point.

If you need any proof that this show can still be entertaining, then one only needs to look at the scenes that involve scheming where we do understand what’s going on. We might have a clue on why Daniel needs to buy the disaster relief company, but it was a clever idea to give him a rival in Prosser. Having the two try and win a contract by using any means necessary is fun to watch simply because it’s shockingly fascinating to watch Daniel as a ruthless CEO and because Victoria’s manipulation of anyone is priceless. Emily’s decision to help Daniel with the acquisition against Victoria’s deal with her was also pretty strong. These were all strong because we understood the players and their motivations as well as the goal.

Now let’s compare this to the Initiative goal of the week: kill Victoria using Aiden.  The fake suspense this creates might feel forced but it does have some benefits. We learn how much Aiden wants his sister back when he’s willing to do this and not tell Emily. When he’s stopped from killing Victoria by Emily, it comes as no surprise when this puts a wedge between the two as his sister is allegedly overdosed. This is assuming they didn’t fake the overdose or that the feed was actually filmed recently or live. For all Aiden knows, this could have happened years ago. Aiden turns away from Emily because he’s afraid her advice might have led to his sister’s death. It’s good drama to see Aiden leave Emily for his sister once again but I can’t help but wonder if this was the best way to end the episode. Having Aiden and Emily’s partnership be on the brink of destruction might be nice but the cliff-hanger made me realize I don’t care enough about the two for it to work as a proper incentive to get me to come back. That’s a cause of concern for the show.

In other news, Conrad is doing all he can to make the Porter drama interesting and he’s succeeding. Conrad is able to get the truth about who killed the father to the Ryan brothers and he buys their share of the bar. One of the brothers is happy with this while the other wants to pursue their father’s dream of developing the docks. This is code for building a casino and becoming filthy rich.  The unsatisfied brother goes to Conrad in an effort to get him to invest in the development and give him back the dock. Conrad had gone into this to help his image by making it look like he’s cleaning the docks but it now appears he might become their overlord. Whatever the case is, I’m actually excited for this plot. Who knew that all you needed to spice up a boring, dead plot is to bring in Conrad?

Collusion is an episode that fails to have any real narrative momentum because the mystery of the Initiative remains unexplained.  If we knew who they were and had a clearer understanding of what they’re really capable of then they could be effective antagonists. At this point, they’re too much in the shadows to really drive the Revenge plot forward. This show works best when we have a general idea of the game that not showing us the pieces is really hurting it.

Other Notes:

Its Charlotte’s birthday but I care as much as Daniel remembered. This is to say not at all. I do like that she changed her last name as it can hopefully lead to some interesting drama.

Didn’t get in my review but the juiciest and best part of the episode is Nolan’s discovery that Padma is a spy and he decides to play her.

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